The end of the line for taxonomists - or is it?

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Tue Jun 29 13:39:10 CDT 2004

Felix Sperling provides a concise commentary at the following site:


Alison Murray wrote:

> An excellent response to Hebert is:
> Will, K.W. and D. Rubinoff. 2004. Myth of the molecule: DNA barcodes for
> species cnnot replace morphology for identification and classification.
> Cladistics, 20:47-55
> Alison M. Murray, Ph.D.
> Palaeobiology, Research Division
> Canadian Museum of Nature
> P.O. Box 3443, Station D
> Ottawa, ON  K1P 6P4
> Canada
> amurray at
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Barry Roth [mailto:barry_roth at YAHOO.COM]
> Sent: June 29, 2004 2:56 PM
> Subject: Re: The end of the line for taxonomists - or is it?
> Yes.  Nevertheless, because some end-users of taxonomy are likely to buy
> into the scheme (perhaps even eventually writing it in as a requirement for
> grants and contracts), we need a strong statement in print concerning its
> unreliability:  a cogently stated, not-too-long, article, preferably
> multi-authored, in a journal with good "street cred," that we taxonomists
> could show our clients when the barcode bugbear arises.  Does anything like
> this exist at present?  Even a short bibliography of existing papers that
> demonstrate Doug's point (with salient quotes provided) would be helpful.
> Barry Roth
> Doug Yanega <dyanega at UCR.EDU> wrote:
> >A gadget that identifies any species in an instant could transform the
> >way we see life on earth p.32"
> If this refers to Hebert's harebrained scheme to use the COI gene to
> "barcode" all living taxa, taxonomists can ignore it - anyone who works
> enough with sequencing knows that COI is unreliable, and also can vary
> within even a single species, or even a single population, making COI
> completely UNsuitable for taxonomic purposes.
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Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN 46556    |

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